February 2011 Archives

From the Director

By Jeanne H. Kilde

The importance of studying religion is brought home to me every time I open a newspaper. From the short-lived but red-hot dispute over the construction of an Islamic center near the Twin Towers site in lower Manhattan that erupted in August, to the disparaging of Haitian Vodou by Christian fundamentalists after the January 2010 earthquake, to the decision to have President Obama refrain from visiting the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, during the fall, religion is in the news as never before.

Bridging Cultures: From Minneapolis to Cordoba

By Nabil Matar, Professor of English

Professor Nabil Matar previews the "Shared Cultural Spaces: Islam and the West in the Arts and Sciences" conference in 2011, part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures initiative and sponsored by the Program in Religious Studies.

With a grant from the Bridging Cultures rubric of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Program in Religious Studies at the University of Minnesota will be hosting a conference on "Shared Cultural Spaces: Islam and the West in Arts and Sciences." The event will include two keynote speakers, individual panels on architecture, science, philosophy, and technology, and the theatrical premiere of the famous twelfth-century story of Hayy ibn Yaqzan. Participants and guests will also visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a special exhibit, meet with Twin Cities cultural groups, and, it is hoped, enjoy stomping in the snow.

Faculty News

Program in Religious Studies core and affiliate faculty members
represent the University of Minnesota's tripartite mission of academic excellence with accolades for extraordinary education, breakthrough research, and dynamic public engagement:

Faculty Spotlight

By Kelly O'Brien

Philip Sellew, recipient of the Motley Exemplary Teaching Award, gently guides his students on a journey of discovery.

As a public university, Minnesota's religious studies offerings focus not on indoctrinating any particular belief, but in understanding the historical, cultural, and societal significance of religion.

Undergraduate News

Strong student community ties and motivation for academic success define religious studies undergraduates at the University of Minnesota

Harold A. Anderson Scholarship

Three outstanding religious studies undergraduate students received the Harold A. Anderson Scholarship in 2009-2010. Jacob Berres plans to study Islam, Judaism, and Christianity before persuing a graduate degree in global studies, international affairs, or political science. Anthony Meyer is an avid writer and plans to study biblical criticism in preparation for graduate study in divinity school. Carl Moerschbacher is working on Greek and Hebrew language aquisition as well as text criticism and biblical exegesis. Congratulations to three motivated junior scholars!

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Student Spotlight

By Derk Renwick
Graduating senior Ashley Talberg worked with faculty from across the College of Liberal Arts while researching the effect religious belief has on game theory. She learned that there is a connection between trust and religious belief, regardless of religious affiliation.

Graduate Studies News

By Ann B. Waltner, Director of Graduate Studies for Religious Studies, Professor of History, and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study

Why should you think about doing a graduate minor in Religious Studies?

The graduate minor in the Program in Religious Studies provides a structured way for students who are interested in religion, no matter what their disciplinary focus, to do systematic coursework in religion. Students are required to take RELS 5001, a methods course, and three other courses, subject to the approval of the DGS. A member of the Religious Studies graduate faculty must serve on your prelims committee. A minor in religious studies offers you the opportunity to interact with faculty and other graduate students who are interested in similar questions in very different contexts--disciplinary, temporal, geographic.

Graduate Spotlight

By Don Burrows
Don Burrows, a Ph.D. candidate in Classical and Near Eastern studies, has done work in biblical studies and American religious history in conjunction with his minor in religious studies. He has used this research to examine how American films in the postwar era depicted ancient Rome in light of the "Judeo-Christian tradition" and how those depictions have affected the popular perception of the ancient Romans.

Study Abroad, Study Locally

Students brought the Program in Religious Studies to the far corners of the globe in 2009-2010 while U of M faculty developed a course that explores lived religion in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

Summer Workshop with Wendy Doniger: Text and Orality

By Jeanne H. Kilde


As the students left campus last May, a group of religious studies scholars from around the Twin Cities area descended on the Program in Religious Studies for a day-long workshop on "Text and Orality" within the study of religion. Noted scholar of Hinduism Dr. Wendy Doniger, from the University of Chicago, kicked off the day with an excellent lecture on the use and ramifications of these categories in the study of Hinduism.

The Career and Lecacy of Calvin J. Roetzel


On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, Professor Calvin Roetzel, Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies, gave his final classroom lecture as a University of Minnesota professor, culminating a long career as an internationally recognized New Testament and Pauline scholar. Students and colleagues, former and current, gathered alongside members of the community to honor Professor Roetzel as he shared how his thoughts on the figure of Paul have changed over the course of his 4forty-two-year teaching career.

Sundet Lecture in Honor of Calvin J. Roetzel

The Sundet Lecture in honor of Calvin J. Roetzel featured renowned New Testament scholar Margaret Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago.

Co-sponsored by the Program in Religious Studies, the Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies, and the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, Mitchell's lecture focused on the relationship the New Testament and early Christian writings have to the wider Greco-Roman world and literary culture in which they were composed, as well as on the legacies of those texts as sacred scripture for Christian communities in later antiquity and beyond.

Watch the full video of Margaret Mitchell's lecture

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Roetzel Family Lecture in Religious Studies

By Calvin J. Roetzel

In May of 1936 when I was just four, I wandered into the kitchen to see my father and mother engaged in a most earnest conversation. I stood transfixed and stock still, eavesdropping. For the first time that I can recall, I saw my mother cry. This should have been a happy day. My oldest brother, Franklin, had just graduated from high school as the valedictorian of his class and he hoped to go to college to study physics and be active in one of the technical aspects of the then new and exciting area of radio transmission and reception.

Make a Gift to the Program in Religious Studies

Betsy Burns
CLA Development & Alumni Relations

A hallmark of the Program in Religious Studies is its desire and ability to reach out to students and scholars outside of the University of Minnesota. The up-and-coming "Crossing Cultural Spaces: Islam in the West in Arts and Sciences" conference is a large-scale example of this, bringing in not only scholars from across the country to present papers, but including faculty members from area colleges who are able to take advantage of the lineup of researchers who are committed to the conference.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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